The Dawn of a New Day…and the Birth of Hope

James S. Gavrilos
Boca Helping Hands
March 1, 2013



 The Dawn of a New Day…and the Birth of Hope
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)


Just moments ago, ten individuals left Boca Helping Hands loaded with pans, warming trays and utensils.  These individuals are currently unemployed…or at least they were until this morning. Today is the first catering “gig” to be prepared and set up by those in our new created Job Training Program.  As of this morning, these individuals are unemployed no longer!

Today, they experience more than just the satisfaction of earning a paycheck.  They experience the dignity of work, the return of self-esteem and the growth of confidence.  One month from today, they will go out and find gainful employment in the local hospitality and restaurant industry and take another enormous step on their journey towards breaking the cycle of dependence. 

Under the watchful eye of our newly hired Hospitality Supervisor, Kerri Powers, twelve students are taken through a three phase process of development. In Phase I, the class spent two weeks (12 classroom hours) learning “life skills” and “emotional intelligence.”  In Phase II, the students spent another two weeks (12 classroom hours) mastering specific restaurant skills.  And finally, in Phase III, which began this morning, they gain hands-on experience as they cater various functions in and around our area.  Both private parties and business lunches have sought out Kerri and her “team”.

As we developed this program, we kept returning to that concept of hope.  Yes, we are providing education.  Yes, we are providing training,  And yes, we are providing hands on experience.  But above all, we are providing  hope.  Therefore, we felt it appropriate to call our new Job Training Program Café Esperanza at Boca Helping Hands.

As the first class of twelve students moves into Phase III, Peggy Jones, Director of the Job Mentor Program, is already vetting applicants for the next class of twelve students, who begin their Phase I in April.  Café Esperanza at Boca Helping Hands is a shining example of collaboration among various entities.  With the classroom portions (Phases I and II) being taught by faculty at Palm Beach State College, and the support with the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce and the local business community, as well as local restaurants, hotels, and caterers who have agreed to interview our graduates, giving them a “warm reception.”, we believe that Café Esperanza at Boca Helping Hands is a model to be duplicated in other industries and in other areas.

Finally, this program would not have been possible without generous funding from The Jim Moran Foundation, as well as the support of The Salah Foundation and The Hagen Family Foundation.  We have every confidence that those who take advantage of this opportunity will move back into productive and gainful employment.  Where they were once hopeless, today their souls are taking flight.  For further information on Café Esperanza at Boca Helping Hands, contact:


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